Abdus Salam’s death anniversary passes by without mention

Published: November 22, 2016
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LAHORE: The 20th death anniversary of Pakistan’s first Nobel prize winner Dr Abdus Salam passed away without any significant mentions on Monday. The only event in his memory is scheduled at his alma mater, the Government College University (GCU) Lahore, and that too two days later.

The great scientist passed away on November 21, 1996 in Oxford, United Kingdom but not a single ceremony has ever been organised to commemorate his death or praise his contributions in the field of science.

‘Every child should be told about Abdus Salam’

Though the federal government set up the Dr Abdus Salam Chair at GCU in 1999, the staffers have been awaiting permanent appointments since. They are usually hired on one- or two-year contracts.

Dr G Murtaza was nominated as the Salam Professor for the chair in 2000. Apart from the assistant professor, two research officers, two post doctoral fellows, one assistant and an attendant are working with the chair.

Dr Murtaza told The Express Tribune that the department had actually planned a three-day Abdus Salam symposium for November 21, 22 and 23 but it had to be put off because of the holiday announced in Lahore owing to Imam Hussain’s Chehlum.

No other mentions

Besides the GCU, no other event has been planned for the scientist’s death anniversary. Punjab University spokesperson confirmed the varsity had never organised any conference on Dr Abdus Salam.

The Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya spokesperson believes the great physicist has been discriminated against only because of his religious beliefs. Dr Salam belonged to the minority Ahmadiyya community.

Spokesperson Saleemudin told The Express Tribune that being an Ahmadi, Dr Salam faced this discrimination in his life that continued afterwards as well. “He was a hero for Pakistan. But I have never seen his portraits along with other national heroes put up on national days,” he added.

Dr Abdus Salam and all the wrong choices Pakistan made

Official neglect

Dr Salam’s 400-square-foot house comprising two rooms in Mohalla Dawood Nahar in Jhang Tehsil was declared a national monument in 1981. This is the house where the physicist was born in 1926.

“There have never been any commemorative ceremonies for Dr Salam at this house as long as I have lived here,” one of the neighbours Nadeem says. A signboard outside the house states the property is protected under the Antiquities Act, 1975.

Nadeem said the outer wall of the house fell some time ago and was repaired by neighbours before the archaeology department took the property into its custody and deputed a caretaker for the site.

The keys to the house remain with another neighbour Yasir, who opens the house for occasional visitors. Reportedly, the caretaker visits once or twice a month. The house needs repairs but the archaeology department and government seem to have no such intentions.

Journey to success

Dr Salam won a scholarship to Government College, University of Punjab and completed his MA in 1946. He then won a scholarship at St John’s College, University of Cambridge where he excelled in mathematics and physics.

In 1950, the Cambridge University awarded him for the most outstanding pre-doctoral contribution to physics. He obtained a PhD in theoretical physics and his thesis, published in 1951, contained fundamental work in quantum electrodynamics which had already gained him an international reputation.

Victim of discrimination

Dr Salam returned to Pakistan from England in 1951 to teach mathematics at Government College, Lahore. In 1952, he was appointed head of the mathematics department of Punjab University. He left Pakistan for Europe in protest against state-sanctioned discrimination and in 1979 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for his groundbreaking research in theoretical physics.

When Dr Salam travelled to Pakistan in December 1979, he was received in Lahore, Peshawar and Islamabad by the military secretaries to the governors and then president Ziaul Haq. When protesters from a politico-religious party threatened to disrupt a commemorative event at Islamabad’s Quaid-e-Azam University, the institution was compelled to shift the event to the National Assembly Hall.

Similarly, protests by Islami Jamiat Talaba disrupted an event at Punjab University, therefore Dr Salam’s alma mater Government College, Lahore chose not to invite him to the institution.

Dr Salam passed away in 1996 and was buried in Rabwah without a state funeral. The epitaph at his grave reads ‘First Nobel Laureate’ as the word ‘Muslim’ has been deleted on court orders.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 22nd, 2016.

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Reader Comments (23)

  • Careless Whispers
    Nov 22, 2016 - 9:30AM

    Disappointing to see how we treat the hero’s of this country.. Dr Abdul Salam was a genius & I have a great deal of respect for him, I don’t care what religious fanatics say, proud of u SirRecommend

  • whitesky
    Nov 22, 2016 - 9:56AM

    Intolerance based on faith.Recommend

  • karl
    Nov 22, 2016 - 10:17AM

    disgusting & sad. this is how we treat our real heroes. ShamefulRecommend

  • Hitler
    Nov 22, 2016 - 11:05AM

    Many came and many went. Who cares if he is remembered or not? What difference will it make to him now except that what he believed in……just saying….Recommend

  • Ahmad
    Nov 22, 2016 - 11:48AM

    World Remembers him, He will always be remembers By Many around the world.
    And that being said “We will be remembers too As a nation who abandoned their Hero”

    Salam Dr. Salam!Recommend

  • Mohammad Khalid
    Nov 22, 2016 - 11:54AM

    Dr. Mohammad Abdus Salam decorated Nishan-e-Imtiaz, Sitara-e-Pakistan, and KBE, was a Pakistani theoretical physicist. He had deep love for Pakistan. Dr. Salam is well-regarded among students of physics and mathematics in Pakistan. His alma mater, Government College University, has established the highest post-graduate school of Mathematics in his name, as well as a chair in Physics.Recommend

  • phoneix
    Nov 22, 2016 - 12:44PM

    among zillions of planets in the universe there is one pink dot that we call our home -mother Earth. only our follies and hate for each other, our limitations and our narrow beliefs inhibits us to look at the limitless vast expanse of the cosoms and salute the great masters of this symphony like Salam who enabled us to realize this beutiful beyond. Recommend

  • therisefoundation
    Nov 22, 2016 - 1:22PM

    great hero dr sbRecommend

  • Acorn Guts
    Nov 22, 2016 - 2:28PM

    One needs to sell nuclear secrets to become a hero in my country. Enormous scientific achievements don’t count.Recommend

  • Lalu prasad
    Nov 22, 2016 - 2:50PM

    The hue and cry i see here are the one’s who are dying to get a nationality of a western country and yet they discriminate their own land.Recommend

  • Mamu
    Nov 22, 2016 - 2:52PM

    Does any one know from which country Newton was? No! Hence, can we talk on any thing else more important.Recommend

  • Optimo
    Nov 22, 2016 - 3:30PM

    @Mamu
    Just because an ignorant ape such as yourself doesn’t know that Newton was English, and that the country of his birth donors him greatly, doesn’t not mean that we should stop feeling proud of having the good doctor come from our part of the world.Recommend

  • Inspector Khan
    Nov 22, 2016 - 5:19PM

    I think people are using him to advance their qadiani beliefs. Besides a British scientist from Oxford questioned his supposed achievements in a book. Recommend

  • Optimo Prime
    Nov 22, 2016 - 5:28PM

    @Optimo:
    So you also believe you are a son of an ape? I taught we were moving forward in science. I taught wrong….Recommend

  • Patail
    Nov 22, 2016 - 6:07PM

    @Inspector Khan
    Truth has been spoken. Thank you.Recommend

  • RF
    Nov 22, 2016 - 6:29PM

    It’s deplorable and embarrassing! How can we forget our national heroes like Dr Abdus Salam and Sir Muhammad Zafarullah Khan. Irrespective of their religious beliefs, they were not even just Pakistanis but great legendary Pakistanis (I really want to emphasise on the word ‘LEGENDARY’). Our new generation should know what they did for the country and how to strive to emulate their unprecedented achievements.Recommend

  • Optimo
    Nov 22, 2016 - 8:11PM

    @Optimo Prime:
    If you still believe in creationism, then neither I nor the the scientific community can help you.

    @Inspector Khan:
    Keep your religion out of this. The man was Nobel winning scientist. One does not win the Nobel prize in the sciences for frivolities. He was a Pakistani, I am damn proud of that fact. I will take the likes Dr. Abdus Salam over any ignorant quasi-religion sprouting ideologue out there.Recommend

  • jm
    Nov 22, 2016 - 8:36PM

    He should have taken selfi on camel’s back.Recommend

  • JKhan
    Nov 23, 2016 - 8:19AM

    @Ahmad:
    He will be remembered for abandoning his faith despite being a well educated person. He may have done to further his education. Yet it does not fit.Recommend

  • Fact book
    Nov 23, 2016 - 11:05AM

    It was Pakistan which awarded him Honorary Doctorate, made him Advisor to the Atomic energy commission and appointed him first director of Sparco, made him Advisor to the International Atomic Energy Commission, awarded Nishanai Imtiaz and Sitara Pakistan.

    That same person left Pakistan and cursed Pakistan saying that his religious group has been made as a minority in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Xavier
    Nov 23, 2016 - 3:53PM

    @Fact book:
    He is the one who formed SUPARCO..It was his efforts alone that made it possible, along with that he developed and helped fund many other scientific organizations in Pakistan. He has done a lot for pakistani science, the entire scientific force of pakistan atomic and nuclear scientists was trained only as a result of him. Furthermore, he set up ICTP(international center for theoretical physics) in Italy which is one of the top physics centers in the world, where third-world country fellows including many people from Pakistan could go and train with top scientists. Even if he had done none of these things, his scientific achievements themselves are enough to speak about how great a man he was.Recommend

  • Fact Book
    Nov 24, 2016 - 11:57AM

    @Xavier:
    Pakistan did not discriminate him on the basis on of his religion. It gave him the due respect. However, he discriminated Pakistan and left Pakistan because his religious group was terms as a minority. Only scientific achievements does not make a person great!Recommend

  • Raghu
    Nov 24, 2016 - 11:58AM

    @Optimo:
    The one who needs help is you my hairy friend.Recommend

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